Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
Jun 22, 2017

Luke Foley on the right track on Western Sydney Airport planning

Federal Labor endorses NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley’s call for the creation of a joint commonwealth-state authority to co-ordinate planning on and around the site of the Western Sydney Airport.

This sensible move would ensure the airport is more than just a runway and a terminal.

The new airport has potential to create thousands of new jobs for Western Sydney residents, not just in aviation but in associated sectors including tourism, education, advanced manufacturing, logistics and residential development.

The authority proposed by Mr Foley today would help realise the full potential of the project by co-ordinating land use and transport infrastructure planning across governments.

I am also pleased Mr Foley has backed Federal Labor’s plan to link the new airport to the Sydney Rail Network from the day it opens.

In April Bill Shorten and I announced a Labor Federal Government would provide initial funding of $400 million to extend Sydney’s South-West Rail link from Leppington to the new airport, as well as a new outer orbital train line from Macarthur in the south to St Marys in the north via the airport.

A second stage of the project will complete Sydney’s outer orbital rail link with construction of a new line connecting St Marys to the Sydney Metro Northwest at Rouse Hill, scheduled to open in 2019.

The Turnbull and Berejiklian governments have yet to commit to a rail connection from the day the airport opens.

Jun 22, 2017

Government-dominated committee condemns coalition infrastructure waste

The Federal Government has wasted at least $70 million in interest on debts raised to give the NSW and Victorian Liberal Governments road funding grants they did not even need.

This is the conclusion of the Government-dominated Joint Public Accounts Committee after its investigation into Commonwealth grants for Melbourne’s ill-fated East-West Link and Sydney’s controversial Westconnex toll road project.

After taking office in 2013, the Government gave the Victorian Government a $1.5 billion advance payment for the East-West Link. It gave a $500 million advance payment to the NSW Government for Westconnex, as well as a $2 billion concessional loan.

The Public Accounts Committee found that at the time the grants were made, the Victorian Government had already allocated all funding necessary for the East–West Link for 2013-14, while the NSW Government had told the Commonwealth it required no more than $46 million for Westconnex.

“The committee was not presented with any material that it considers provides a proper basis for these advance payments and the committee noted the payments were not required to progress either project at that time,’’ the report said.

“The Government’s decision to make these payments resulted in significant extra costs to the taxpayer in terms of interest on borrowing.

“These costs were estimated as being around $70 million at the time the two audits were completed.’’

Since then, the total interest payments on this needless debt would be more than $100 million and counting.

The report also found the Coalition breached its own election promises by funding the projects without cost-benefit analysis from the independent Infrastructure Australia.

This finding is particularly damning.

After the Government funded the East-West Link, it emerged the project was a dud that would have delivered a paltry 45 cents in public benefit for every dollar invested. That is why the project later collapsed.

The former Labor Government created Infrastructure Australia to protect public money.

But the Coalition has sidelined the organisation, ignoring its advice to invest in public transport and instead funding dud toll roads on the basis of its political requirements, rather than the national economic interest.

Jun 22, 2017

Labor seeks broader consultation on airport

The Turnbull Government’s Forum on Western Sydney Airport should be expanded to ensure the proposed airport is subject to broader public consultation.

The Government created the consultative forum earlier this year after deciding to construct the new airport at Badgerys Creek.

It includes a range of MPs, aviation experts, local government and community representatives and businesspeople.

Labor has welcomed the appointment of University of Western Sydney Chancellor Peter Shergold AC to chair the forum.

This week I have written to the Minister for Urban Infrastructure, Paul Fletcher, asking that the forum be expanded to include the Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, as well as the Member for Lindsay, Emma Husar.

Labor supports the development of the Western Sydney Airport, which will increase Sydney’s aviation capacity and create thousands of jobs.

However, to ensure the success of this important project we need a world-class public consultation program.

While Labor congratulates the Government on the creation of this forum, the inclusion of Ms Husar and Ms Templeman would ensure the communities around Penrith and the Blue Mountains could channel their feedback on issues relating to the Western Sydney Airport through their elected local representatives.

The addition of Ms Templeman and Ms Husar is a constructive suggestion to improve the functioning of the forum.

Jun 19, 2017

Prime Minister lost in rhetoric, not reality

Today in Question Time the Prime Minister was unable to answer basic questions about a City Deal for Hobart, despite saying eight months ago that he was ‘very open, in fact enthusiastic, about talking about it’.

To add insult to injury the Prime Minister, floundering through his response, spoke only about the Launceston City Deal.

The last time I looked at a map, Launceston and Hobart were two different cities, in two very different regions of Tasmania.

The fact is that in the eight months since the Prime Minister first talked about a City Deal for Hobart, the Mayor of Hobart City Council has heard nothing further.

This proves this is a Prime Minister who cannot match rhetoric with reality.

Since taking office the Turnbull Government has not commenced a single new project in Tasmania. Instead it has sought to mask its inaction with vague promises about City Deals.

The Turnbull Government has also ignored light rail for Hobart, a project which the former Federal Labor Government sought to progress back in 2013 by allocating money to advance the project’s business case.

Hobart does not need more talk from the Prime Minister. It needs actual investment.

Jun 16, 2017

Talking Point: Federal Government delivers political fix, not a serious funding plan

ANTHONY ALBANESE, Mercury

June 16, 2017 12:04am

THERE’S an old saying that actions prove who a person is, while words prove only who they want to be.

When it comes to the infrastructure needs of Tasmania, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is a wannabe who talks a lot but fails to match his rhetoric with actual investment.

In the lead-up to last month’s Federal Budget, Mr Turnbull and his ministers went to great lengths to create the impression they planned to increase investment in railways, roads and other infrastructure.

They even embraced aspects of the Opposition’s approach to infrastructure, including the notion that it can make sense to borrow to invest in good infrastructure projects that enhance productivity and thereby drive economic and jobs growth.

But the shift was purely rhetorical.

Budget 2017 cut national infrastructure investment by $1.6 billion this financial year alone.

Spending will fall off a cliff over the next four years, from $7.6 billion this year to $4.2 billion by 2020-21.

Tasmania was particularly hard hit.

Budget documents show that while the Commonwealth expects to invest $174.6 million in ongoing Tasmanian infrastructure projects in

2017-18, the figure will collapse by more than two-thirds to $52.6 million by 2019-20.

Since taking office the Turnbull Government has not commenced a single new project in Tasmania. Instead it has sought to mask its inaction with vague promises about City Deals.

City Deals originate from the United Kingdom as vehicles for co-operation between national and local government on shared economic development goals.

The national government delivers infrastructure funding based on these shared objectives and shares any resulting revenue increases with the councils.

Mr Turnbull’s City Deals bear little resemblance to the UK model.

They are political fixes.

The three City Deals proposed in last year’s federal election campaign, in Townsville, Launceston and Western Sydney, all came in response to actual infrastructure investment commitments by the Labor Party.

Unwilling to commit to real funding for real projects, the Government proposed City Deals.

Traffic congestion is becoming a major problem in Hobart. Picture: MATHEW FARRELL

The Hobart City Deal, proposed after last year’s election, is yet to materialise, despite the local community’s push to build it around a move of the University of Tasmania STEM campus from Sandy Bay to the CBD.

Hobart does not need more talk from Mr Turnbull. It needs actual investment.

That is why in last year’s federal election campaign, Labor proposed an upgrade to the Hobart Bus Mall, a Bellerive public ferry pier, and offered seed funding for a local traffic modelling system to address traffic congestion.

Hobart also needs light rail, a project the former federal Labor government sought to progress back in 2013 by allocating money to advance the project’s business case.

This article was originally published in The Mercury

Jun 13, 2017

Turnbull’s rail fund a sham

Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed his National Rail Fund is a sham that will not produce a dollar of new investment for public transport until well after the next Federal election.

The Prime Minister’s admission came today after the Queensland Government was forced to go it alone in funding the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane in its 2017 Budget because Mr Turnbull has refused to support the project.

Malcolm Turnbull likes taking selfies on trains, tram and buses.

But he refuses to invest in trains, trams or buses despite repeated warnings that traffic congestion is acting as a hand brake on the nation’s economic development.

Cross River Rail is urgently needed to provide a second rail crossing of the Brisbane River in the city’s CBD because the existing Merivale Bridge is reaching full capacity.

Continued delay in commencing the project will inhibit economic growth in Brisbane and right across south-east Queensland.

In last month’s Budget Mr Turnbull created a $10 billion National Rail Fund which he says could be used to invest in Cross River Rail as well as other public transport projects like the Melbourne Metro and the ADELink light rail project.

In Question Time today I asked: Is the Prime Minister aware that under the so-called National Rail Program, not a single dollar is available for building rail in this entire term of Parliament? Nothing this year, nothing next year and nothing the year after that? Isn’t the National Rail Program the new NAIF – the No Actual Infrastructure Fund?
Mr Turnbull ignored the specifics of the question.

Cross River Rail was approved by Infrastructure Australia in 2012 and was ready to commence in 2013 under a deal between the former Labor Government and the former Coalition Queensland Government.

But it was cancelled by the incoming Federal Coalition Government, which has subsequently not provided a single dollar of new investment for public transport.

 

Jun 9, 2017

Coalition slashes Tassie infrastructure investment

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull plans to cut Federal investment in Tasmanian railways, roads and other infrastructure by more than two thirds in the next three years.

At a time when Tasmania needs increased investment to secure productivity gains and boost economic growth, the Coalition is cutting investment to the bone.

Budget documents show that while the Commonwealth expects to invest $174.6 million in Tasmanian infrastructure in 2017-18, the figure will fall to $52.6 million by 2019-20 – see graph below.
GRAPH
The cuts will follow a $26 million reduction in infrastructure spending in Tasmania in the current financial year revealed in the Budget in May, including cuts to the Black Spots program and general road funding.

Year after year the Coalition Government pretends it is lifting infrastructure investment but year after year it inflicts more painful cuts on Tasmania.

Tasmanians pay their taxes just like other Australians.

But from the moment the Coalition took office and cut $100 million from the Midland Highway upgrade, it has been reducing funding.

Under the former Labor Government, Commonwealth investment in Tasmanian infrastructure was equivalent to $264 a year per Tasmanian.

But by 2020-21, investment will fall to $118 per Tasmanian.

That’s not good enough.

Jun 7, 2017

Unlocking tourism potential requires public transport

If the Government is serious about boosting tourism in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, it should ensure the Western Sydney Airport is connected to public transport from day one.

Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, places of adventure and great natural beauty, already offer so much to tourists.

However if we are to truly unlock the tourism potential arising from the Western Sydney Airport, investment in public transport is required to make it easier for visitors to access these destinations.

Time and again we have seen this is a Government that can’t match its rhetoric with reality.

Mr Fletcher says he wants to boost tourism in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, but he won’t provide the infrastructure investment that’s required to achieve this.

Tourism plays a critical role in the national economy and that of many local economies.

It has been identified by Deloitte as one of five super growth sectors and employs more than one million Australians.

The Government must provide real investment to ensure this vital industry continues its record growth and this includes investing in rail access for the Western Sydney Airport.

Jun 2, 2017

Survey of Tourist Accommodation Still Under a Cloud

The future of the Survey of Tourist Accommodation remains in doubt after it was revealed at Senate Estimates last night that Minister Ciobo has failed to make any progress in determining its funding.

Austrade department officials confirmed that ‘a final position is now being considered by Government.’

However this is nearly identical to the response provided following the February Senate Estimates this year where, the matter was ‘under consideration by Governments’.

The Survey of Tourist Accommodation is heavily relied upon by the tourism sector and considered a valuable resource.

It provides information on accommodation across Australia, including occupancy rates, room rates and revenue, as well as a measure of accommodation supply for destinations across the nation.

Indeed in a 2015 submission to the Productivity Commission the Tourism and Transport Forum said that the STA ‘has delivered a comprehensive picture of Australia’s accommodation sector performance since 1998 that has been critical to enabling informed tourism investment decisions.’

At last night’s Senate Estimates, Mr O’Sullivan, Managing Director of Tourism Australia, said that, ‘I think any data source that helps us track the progress of 2020 is a valuable one.’

Given that we are now half way through 2017, Minister Ciobo must waste no further time and commit to producing the Survey of Tourist Accommodation.

This Government has shown nothing but contempt for the tourism sector, failing to even release a tourism policy at the last election.

In this Budget alone, it has cut Tourism Australia’s budget by $35 million over the forward years and increased visa application charges.

The fact is that tourism is one of Australia’s super-growth sectors.

Communities around Australia rely on tourism for their economies, and so too does the nation.

This sector deserves real investment so that it can continue to play a leading role in the national economy.

FRIDAY, 2 JUNE 2017

Jun 1, 2017

Public transport con unravelling

The Turnbull Government’s alleged $10 billion National Rail Fund has emerged as a political fix that will do nothing to actually deliver new railways.

Evidence before Senate Budget Estimates hearings has confirmed that the fund will not yield a dollar in actual investment until well after the next Federal election.

In his Budget speech on May 9, Treasurer Scott Morrison said the fund could be used to provide Commonwealth contributions to much needed public transport projects like the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, and the ADELink project.

However, the Budget fine print reveals the fund will yield nothing this year, next year or the year after.

After four years of neglect, Australia’s big cities need rail investment now, not years from now.

Traffic congestion is a hand brake on economic and jobs growth. Analysis by Infrastructure Australia has found it will cost the nation $53 billion a year in lost productivity by 2031 without action now.

It is clear that the Government created this alleged rail fund because it has realised that Australians are sick of its refusal to invest in public transport.

However, the lack of any actual investment this entire term confirms the fund is a con. It is not a legitimate funding mechanism, but a political fix designed to give the illusion of action.

Mr Turnbull enjoys taking selfies as he rides on trains, trams and buses. It is time he invested in trains, trams and buses.

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Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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